Water advisory in Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove neighborhood likely to be lifted soon

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- The water advisory for the hard hit Fountaingrove neighborhood of Santa Rosa will likely be lifted in a matter of weeks. Melted pipes from October's Tubbs Fire contaminated the water making it unsafe for just about everything.

Before Jan Verspecht installed a five thousand dollar filter, he couldn't use the water inside his own home. The city told him it was contaminated.

"The city actually brought the water up with a water truck and then we just filled buckets," said Verspecht.

But at a community meeting, employees of Santa Rosa Water said recent water tests have been promising. They spent months identifying and fixing the problem, which came to their attention when people noticed that the water had a strong odor. Turned out, it was benzene. The cancer-causing compound leeched into the water system from plastic pipes that melted as flames tore through the neighborhood.

"All of the data in the advisory area has come back and meets all regulatory requirements, federal and state drinking water requirements for safe water," said Jennifer Burke, Santa Rosa's deputy director of water resources.

Crews replaced more than 440 water lines, three water mains and eight fire hydrants at a cost of eight million dollars. Still, many homeowners, most of whom have yet to rebuild, are not convinced that the work that's been done is enough.

"It just causes questions. When you have Flint, Michigans and you have water problems in the country, you just don't know," said Bill Carle, a Fountaingrove homeowner who is still waiting to rebuild.

The city says regular testing will continue for as long as necessary, and that's good enough for Jan Verspecht.

"The only thing of course is I'm going to have to start paying for the water again. So that's the only thing," joked Verspecht.

Santa Rosa Water is hoping to lift the water advisory in early October.

For more stories, photos, and video on recent incidents of contaminated water, visit this page.
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